Monday, February 12, 2007

Sheila's economic development plan is really, really stupid.

Here are her goals, taken directly from her campaign document -
1. Budget for a full time city employee who has the sole mission of business development and advocacy.

2. Establish a program of recognition and appreciation of businesses that have stayed in Carbondale and helped build our community.

3. In cooperation with organizations that recruit and support businesses, establish a program of regular assessment of the needs of local businesses.

4. Work with major employers to encourage their employees to live in Carbondale.

5. Establish a pilot program of microcredit, very small loans, for area youth who have a desire to build their own small businesses.
Let's see, Brad cleaned up the mess that was Carbondale Business Development Corporation that was left for him and budgeted and hired a city employee to do the work. So number 1 is Brad's plan, but he already did all the work. I guess there is some issue about if we should be adding headcount to city hall or if we should be cutting fat. Brad seems to be interested in doing more with less and Sheila in spending more taxpayer money (a clear difference between them).

Establish a "program of recognition" for business? Everyone and their mother already does this. Maybe Sheila has never heard of the Chamber of Commerce? It would be better to leave city politics out of this sort of thing. The good news is she is stealing this idea from someone beside Brad for a change.

Assess the needs of local businesses? Since almost everything in town is a service business that makes money off students, people who serve students or shoppers from neighboring communities, let me save everyone time and effort. What local business that exist today need is 25,000 students on campus and the City of Carbondale government to continue the current pro-business movement that has been in place since Brad became mayor. Otherwise, the city should keep their attention to running their business and let the business people run their businesses without interference from a petty bureaucrats.

Sheila thinks that employers are going to get their employees to live in Carbondale? What a stupid idea. Two thoughts for Sheila - District 95 test scores and house size. If you believe school test scores are important and you have (or plan to have) children, then you are obligated to live out of town. If you want the average sized (or much bigger, if you are doctor) house that Americans are building today, you are going to have to live out of town. Even given that, why would an employer risk their relationship with their employees to back such a stupid plan?

The microcredit idea is interesting, but is unlikely to work. I guess I'm for this one, even if it is a long shot. But if you only have time to do a few things, this sure feels like something that should be priority 20 and not priority 5 on your list.

I have written about business development in Southern Illinois extensively in this blog and I don't feel like doing it again, in painful detail right now. Quickly, what Carbondale needs is for SIU to stop messing up and for a couple of businesses to emerge that export something beyond a 50 mile area. They also need the city to continue to be pro-business, instead of returning to the anti-business city hall of the Neil Dillard era.

Since Sheila isn't clearly calling for a pro-business city hall, I assume she doesn't want one. Last election, Brad quoted someone, "that business goes where it is wanted and stays where it is appreciated." At the end of his term, Brad is going to have the best business development record of any Carbondale mayor in my lifetime. Sheila is going to stink in comparison if she is elected.

For the city government of Carbondale supporting business (and really not be obstructionist) is critically important. This issue is clearly Brad's strength and Sheila at best clueless on these issues.


Anonymous said...

At the end of his term, Brad is going to have the best business development record of any Carbondale mayor in my lifetime.

His record is incredibly overblown. He brought us a third (yes, third) autoparts store and another bank. Whoop-dee do...more low paying jobs!

He claims to have brought in Dick's Sporting Goods, although its not clear that he had anything to do with making a bargain between two private businesses. The impact of that? Its likely to destroy a number of local businesses. The business owners themselves made this point.

The enterprise zone? Let's be clear...Brad didn't do this. Brad, the council, and the city administrator did it.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Writing about the TIF district, I guess it is true that the city council voted for it, the city staff implemented it, but it was Brad who figured it out and drove it through the process. Since Brad is the owner if that initiative, he gets the credit and the blame.

I'll get into the rest of this in the future, but you are mistaken when you write that the city government chooses the businesses that come to town. That isn't the way it works. The city governments main job is to not blow it when the opportunity walks through the door.

Please read up on US style capitalism and report back. You don't understand what is happening.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"Whoop-dee do...more low paying jobs!"

A local bank comes into town and you complain about low paying jobs? Do you expect goldman sachs to choose carbondale for it's next location once a different mayor is elected?

Local banks offer good paying jobs with room for advancement for their employees. Additionally, they make loan decisions locally which helps local businesses and keeps the money in Carbondale rather than transferring out of town. That's good, good, good and good.

Are you that insulated from reality?

Nate said...

My favorite Mayor Dillard story was when he took credit in the SI for bringing new jobs to the city with the opening of ... a gas station (I think it was Casey's). The mayor's position isn't some political fantasy camp. I think Sheila means well with her ideas. They're just worthless ideas. Believe it or not, the answer to better government isn't always bigger government.

dave said...

Peter, to be fair, since you are for #4, the headline should say 'really' stupid, not 'really, really' stupid. Or were you originally going to say "Sheila's plan is really, really, really stupid?

Tell us what you really think! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'll get into the rest of this in the future, but you are mistaken when you write that the city government chooses the businesses that come to town.


I didn't say anything of the sort. Its the mayor who acts like this is the way it works.